Your small business is never too small to make a difference

Your small business is never too small to make a difference

Social entrepreneurs and purpose driven business owners often think they have to wait until their business is hugely profitable before they can make a positive impact for the causes they care about, but that’s not necessarily true.

There are numerous ways you can give back to good causes, even before you’re making a profit.

Research shows that 55% of small businesses don’t survive past 5 years. And with all the pressures that fall on small business owners, it’s hardly surprising.

You may be worried that giving back will distract you from the important revenue generating activities, or eat into your much needed cash flow during the crucial survival period.

But embedding positive impact can actually be a huge competitive advantage.

According to Forbes, more than 88% of consumers think companies should try to achieve their business goals while improving society and the environment.

83% of consumers think companies should support charities and nonprofits with financial donations. 

The average American consumer will drive nearly 11 minutes out of their way to buy a cause-marketing product and when choosing between two brands of equal quality and price, 90% of U.S. shoppers are likely to switch to a cause branded product.

Without the large marketing budgets of bigger corporations, small businesses and start ups often struggle to get seen and heard. But an ethical marketing strategy aligned to the causes your customer cares most about can be a powerful way of connecting with them and turning them into raving fans.

Small businesses account for 99% of private sector businesses in the UK – which means they are an incredibly powerful economic force.

It’s clear that in the face of major global challenges, economic growth has often been a detrimental force to the environment, and if we’re going to achieve a better, more sustainable future we need “growth for good” – growth against a triple bottom line of people, planet and profit – not just financial gains that come at any cost.

Small businesses are more agile than large corporations and able to implement things quickly. Often small businesses have a tighter control over their supply chain, which means they can take action to go plastic free, offset their carbon and ensure everyone is paid a living wage.

A UN report released in 2017 found that 82 out of 100 blue chip companies demonstrated commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals in their 2016 annual reports, either through explicit statements about the goals or implicit actions that support them.

But large corporations often struggle with complex systems and supply chains which prevent them implementing sustainability initiatives easily.

Again this presents a big competitive advantage for small businesses who are able to embed impact against the Sustainable Development Goals.

This may come from your supply chain, procurement and business processes – by upholding high ethical standards and only working with collaborators who share these.

You may also want to go above and beyond by embedding a giving back strategy in your business.

If you’re not profitable yet, you could consider building this impact into your costs and donating a percentage of sales revenue to good causes instead – or, depending on the nature of your business, you might give pro bono services or support to charities, NGOs or other purpose driven organisations in need.

However you choose to embed your ethics in your business, it’s important to remember that you’re never too small to make a difference.

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